Journal Article

Who are the male partners of adolescent girls and young women in Swaziland? Analysis of survey data from community venues across 19 DREAMS districts

Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW, ages 15–24) are at high risk of HIV in Swaziland. Understanding more about their male sexual partners can inform HIV prevention efforts for both.

Using the PLACE methodology across all 19 DREAMS implementation districts, 843 men ages 20–34 were surveyed between December 2016–February 2017. Surveys were conducted at 182 venues identified by community informants as places where AGYW and men meet/socialize. Descriptive and multivariate analyses examined characteristics and risk behaviors of male partners of AGYW.

Men’s average age was 25.7. Sixty-three percent reported female partners ages 15–19, and 70% reported partners ages 20–24 in the last year; of those, 12% and 11% respectively had five or more such partners. Among the 568 male partners of AGYW, 36% reported consistent condom use with their current/last partner. Forty-two percent reported testing for HIV in the last year; 6% were HIV-positive, and of those, 97% were currently on treatment. One-third (37%) reported being circumcised; among uncircumcised, 81% were not considering it. In multivariate analyses, men who reported three or more AGYW partners in the last year were more likely to be HIV-positive (aOR 3.2, 95% CI 1.1,8.8). Men were also less likely to disclose their HIV status to adolescent versus older partners (aOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4,0.9) and partners more than 5 years younger than themselves (aOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4,0.9). Results also revealed relatively high unemployment and mobility, substantial financial responsibilities, and periodic homelessness.

Most men identified through community venues reported relationships with AGYW, and these relationships demonstrated substantial HIV risk. Challenging life circumstances suggest structural factors may underlie some risk behaviors. Engaging men in HIV prevention and targeted health services is critical, and informant-identified community venues are promising intervention sites to reach high-risk male partners of AGYW.